I’m befuddled to learn that a March 28 lunchtime discussion at USC Annenberg with Perez Hilton (aka Mario Armando Lavandeira Jr.) was not canceled by the school, but by Hilton himself.
It’s not mandatory to hold one’s blogging standards up to the those embedded in the rigid ethics taught at a Journalism and Communication school, but inviting someone so painfully lacking in journalistic integrity to speak as a role model to an admiring student body?
I’m pretty sure Annenberg didn’t invite Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass after they were unceremoniously canned for their breaches of journalistic integrity.
The students who would have filled Room 207 at Annenberg for this event may not have been aware that Hilton is the defendant in an ongoing $7.6M copyright infringement lawsuit. While I’m a strong proponent of fair use, and believe copyright rules need to be revised for the digital age, Hilton’s fair use defense doesn’t stand a chance. He stole copyrighted, non-Commons-licensed photos from multiple journalists, bloggers, news agencies and photographers alike and re-used them on his hugely popular (and profitable) Web site. More recently, he was sued for posting topless photos of Jennifer Aniston.
Had he not been too chicken to show up (and I hope he reconsiders) I would give my colleagues the opportunity to ask as many questions as they want: how does it feel to party with Paris and Linds? OMG what are you gonna wear when you host MTV’s Australian Music Video Awards? After all, it was billed not as a discussion on journalistic ethics but as “An Insider’s Take on Celebrity Culture, Blogging, and Gays in Hollywood.”
But I sure hope I wouldn’t be the only one (I’d wait until the end of the hour) to out him as a decent model for snuffing out gossip and aspiring young celeb-bloggers, but an even better example of journalism-gone-wrong and how ethics and laws still apply as equally to the blogosphere as they do to print and radio/TV.
photo by Mai Le via flickr.